They've stopped making Checker cabs out in Kalamazoo, but my favorite Washington driver of a Checker, Irving Schlaifer, reports that his 1981 model has 68,000 miles on it and is in good shape. The biggest problem, Schlaifer said in his holiday newsletter, is that "I am only getting about ten (10) miles to the gallon of gas." But he has a source for spare parts. More on that later.

Now, you've never read a holiday newsletter until you've read the one from Schlaifer, a man for whom, over many years, I've developed a special fondness. I've been hearing his proposals for improving the Washington taxicab situation, and especially its fare structure, for somewhere around a quarter century. Just last year he proposed 17 different changes in rates.

The holiday newsletter Schlaifer writes for himself and wife Emma is six legal pages. From its pages one learns that two of his three African violet plants haven't bloomed for two years, that a hilarious picture of their cat Foxey lying on her backside in a washbowl won them tickets to the musical comedy "Cats," and that this year's newsletter is being written on their new $715 word-processing typewriter that weighs 19 pounds and has an 8-K memory ("It . . . can store 8,000 characters in its memory chips.").

Back to the Checker. Schlaifer assures us that he is able to keep the cab in good repair, although "some special parts must be ordered from the Checker dealer in Chicago, Illinois. I call them long distance and they ship the parts C.O.D. (cash on delivery) . . . . It usually takes five (5) to eight (8) days . . . "

A year ago, in reporting on Schlaifer's holiday letter, we noted that Emma was having trouble finding a source for the clips for clip-on bow ties. In case you've been worrying about that, Schlaifer informs us she found a source in Lehigh Valley, Pa. 18801. They cost 45 cents each or $4.50 a dozen.